WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Winter hiking: choose the right outfit

Functional features, utility, warmth, durability… these are just some of the criteria to be considered when buying snow hiking gear. Depending on your level of ability, we can help you make the right choices!

The benefit of hiking on snow is that it is for everyone, regardless of your experience or physical condition. Walking in a relaxed way with family or friends, seeking to climb peaks to admire the view or surpassing yourself to reach ever higher limits… Regardless of your level of ability, we have the equipment you need!

A few basic rules

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Adjust your hike

To the group's level of ability: e.g. if you are going with children, make sure that the outing is not too long or the elevation gains are not too high and include some points of interest on the way to motivate them.

Study your route

Assess the walking time, elevation gain and type of terrain in order take the right equipment, enough water, a picnic or some snacks, spare clothing, etc.

Anticipate any problems

Consult the weather forecast to adjust your route and your equipment.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Once you've chosen your route and safety measures, it's time to pick the right gear. All the products designed for hiking on snow have common features:

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Limiting snow ingress

A suitable hiking outfit for snow has lots of features to stop snow from getting in. A few examples:
For jackets: wind sleeves at the cuffs, or a stand-up collar to protect the neck.
For trousers: the waist is often higher than traditional pants for having fun and sitting in the snow without worrying about snow getting in. Integrated gaiter systems also exist at the bottom of the legs to prevent snow from slipping into the boot.

Waterproofing

Hiking in the snow means waterproofing. Indeed, the snow melts and gets you wet. Be careful not to confuse water-repellency with waterproofness.
Waterproofing is the property of a product that doesn’t allow rain to pass through. Water-repellency, on the other hand, is the ability of a fabric to let water slide off its surface without absorbing it.

Warmth

Whether it's your jacket, your pants or your boots, when hiking in the snow, your outfit needs to be warm. Jackets and parkas are usually lined with wadding. Warm pants are often made of windproof material on the outside and brushed inside for more warmth and comfort.

The grip of your boots

Snow requires adapted snow or hiking boots. Because we don’t walk on snow as we would on asphalt. Snow is slippery, it gets wet. So you have to choose footwear with a grippy sole. The materials and grooves in the sole are designed for snow. In addition, the surface area and depth of the studs improve the grip of the boots for traction on snow. We can compare the sole of a boot adapted to snow to a snow tyre.

“The benefits of this equipment are developed to varying degrees according to level of ability. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced hiker, there is something for everyone.”

Hiking on snow in easy mode

You walk at an easy pace… in your opinion, hiking is the ideal time for the contemplating nature, getting a breath of fresh air, stopping to take photos, making snow angels with the children… you enjoy the signposted trails and the silence of the snow-covered landscapes…

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Warmth first and foremost…

Regarding clothing, your priority is to keep nice and warm. Indeed, because you will be stopping to take breaks and be more stationary at certain times, there is a risk that you will catch cold.  To keep warm, all you need are 3 layers: a breathable high-tech base layer that will keep you warm while allowing air to flow, a pullover or fleece to insulate you from the cold and a third layer, i.e. a jacket or parka, to protect you from the weather and wind.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

… and freedom of movement

Regarding trousers, in addition to warmth, a loose fit is better because it allows you to move freely. A little extra: a drawstring at the bottom of your trousers will prevent snow getting into your boots, or opt for pants with built-in gaiters. Then snow won’t get into your boots.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

... And grip

As for the footwear, you need boots or shoes with good grip. Even if you’re walking on groomed terrain with little slope, packed snow can be slippery and it’s essential to have good grip.

on signposted trails, there is little risk that you will sink into the snow: you can opt for warm and waterproof boots for walking on snow, with non-slip soles and good ankle support.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Utility

Don't overlook the practical aspect of your clothing, such as the pockets for carrying cereal bars or holding your gloves while you take a photo, a high collar for preventing snow from getting inside and the comfort of the clothing.

Tip: non-slip

On the signposted trails, there may be sections that are more slippery or even icy. There are practical removable non-slip spikes that you can take in your backpack and very easily slip over your boots. They will be the solution for coping with an icy trail!

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Hiking on snow in sports mode

Hiking on snow is a breath of fresh for you. exploring new peaks, surpassing yourself, filling your lungs with fresh air, feeling your heartbeat and getting to the top, while still recovering your breath to contemplate the panorama and enjoy the moment before going back down… on a sledge, why not? Intoxicated by the speed and the fresh air…

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Snow studs or snowshoes

Regarding footwear, the grip is an essential feature. Choose boots with lugs specially designed for walking on snow. They must have relatively prominent lugs (3 to 5 mm) to provide good grip on icy sections or steep gradients. Depending on the type of snow that you encounter on your route, a pair of snowshoes may come in useful to give you the buoyancy, hence comfort, you need to avoid sinking into the powder snow.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Warmth & breathability

The warmth of your equipment is as important as the breathability: the cold of winter, accentuated by the altitude, shouldn’t stop you or spoil your fun ... and as you’re hiking in sport mode, breathability ensures good perspiration wicking and prevents humidity from building up, to better protect you from the cold.

  The three layer rule also applies to you: a high-tech base layer, followed by a second layer to insulate you from the cold with a warm and lightweight long-sleeved T-shirt. The third layer will be lightweight, water repellent and, above all, breathable. The same applies to the trousers.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Anti-intrusion system

If you are climbing in snowshoes, choose a pair of anti-intrusion trousers to prevent snow from getting into your clothing. Particularly if you're coming back down on a sledge… These trousers are equipped with bellows at the trouser-bottoms and a small hook that fastens to the laces of your footwear in order to keep the snow out.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

The poles: an invaluable aid

Whatever the situation, poles are an invaluable aid to the sports hiker. They improve safety going downhill and provide support going uphill. Choose poles designed for the snow, i.e. with large baskets, and telescopic pole sections so that they can be stored in a backpack.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

In the event of extreme cold (down to -20°c)

Your hike may be a little less sporty. All you need to do is adjust your equipment to cope with extreme temperatures. Without adding an additional layer, simply choose a thicker jacket and pair of trousers, which must nevertheless still be breathable. A jacket with a large collar or hood will protect the head and neck. As for the footwear, choose boots with more coverage that can come in more useful in extreme cold conditions.

Hiking in advanced mode

You feel at home in the mountains. Regardless of the weather, as soon as the first flakes of snow start to fall, you can be seen clambering towards the peaks… you never feel better than when you are at altitude, enjoying pushing yourself, breathing the heady high-altitude air and taking on new challenges with each outing: going further, quicker each time…

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Lightweight and breathable

Given that you won't be put off from climbing by the cold, snow or melting snow, it is important that your equipment is suited to every type of condition. Warmth and comfort are essential features given that you will often be going out for long periods in all types of weather. The key, however, to your type of use is the breathability of the clothing, to wick away perspiration, as well as its lightness so that you’re free to move.

  In addition to the first two layers, i.e. the high-tech base layer and the insulating T-shirt, preferably choose a lightweight jacket like a softshell. This word refers to a flexible and breathable item of clothing that can withstand the weather conditions and provide thermal insulation. These jackets provide comfort and warmth while also protecting you from the wind and weather conditions. You will require the same features for your trousers.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Grip, comfort and low weight

Regarding the footwear, as an advanced hiker, you need grip on snow and good traction in the event of slippery sections or steep gradients. You need freedom of movement and low weight…

If you’re moving about on tightly packed snow, go for "high" boots, that is, boots that support you well up to the top of the ankle.

If, like any good mountain goat, you go off the beaten track in powder snow, choose "mid" boots paired with snowshoes. In this case, make sure that your trousers have an anti-intrusion system:  built-in gaiters, bellows with a zip and press studs or even a small hook to be fastened to the footwear.

With or without snowshoes, it may be useful to take some telescopic poles with you in your backpack. Without forgetting a water bottle for drinking regularly and a snack should you feel a drop in energy.

Did you know ...?

To combat the cold, the body reacts in various ways by speeding up the heart rate or even reducing the blood flow to the hands and feet. Sports in general, and hiking of snow in particular, are an excellent way of warming yourself up as long as the body is already at a certain temperature, which is why you need a good warm-up. Rotate your arms, bend your knees, rotate the upper body and start hiking at a gentle pace to raise the temperature.

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

In conclusion, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced hiker, there is no reason why you cannot treat yourself to the pleasures of hiking on snow, as long as you are well prepared and have the right equipment!

WINTER HIKING: CHOOSE THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Jessica

Quechua communication team

Mountain enthusiast, fan of hiking with or without snowshoes, lover of wide-open spaces, lakes and mountain peaks, occasional climber and part-time surfer.

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